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Tribal Tattoos: History, Style, And Artists

Tribal tattooing dates back a long time ago. Even before the time when ancient Egypt literally ruled over the world. When it comes down to tribal tattoos, the timeline can stretch a lot. Actually, archaeologists discovered a body covered in 61 tribal tattoos that date back to 5,000 years ago.

The name of that mysterious man was Otzi, the Iceman. He was found on the border between Austria and Italy. As we mentioned above, his whole body was covered by 61 tribal tattoos, consisting of simple dots and lines. And this is what tribal tattooing represents – perfectly combined dots and lines.

Tribal tattoos are also quite popular these days. A lot of people utilize this ancient style of tattooing. 

Here, we’re going to examine the history of tribal tattoos and the famous artists who amaze the world with outstanding tribal tattoo artworks.



Tribal Art
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As we mentioned earlier, our first evidence for tribal tattooing dates back to 5,000 years ago. It is believed that Otzi the Iceman was the man who brought tribal tattoos to the world. And his own body is a genuine testimonial. Truth be told, most of his tribal body tattoos make quite a deep sense and logic. This then suggests that he used to live in a very advanced society of people.

A lot of other tribal tattoos first examples have also been found on some mummy bodies throughout the years. The second oldest tribal tattoo that’s known to exist belonged to the mummy of the Chinchoro Man. He lived between 2563 and 1972 BCE. The mummy was found in Northern Chile.

Tribal tattoos have also been recently found on other mummy bodies in Egypt. People in Egypt used to depict their lower abdomen area with numerous dots and simple lines. But, recent studies were also conducted to research the transformation of tribal tattooing in Egypt throughout the years. It was found that more recent Egyptians have drawn tattoos. This includes details like lotus flowers, animals, and the Wadjet Eye, also known as the Eye of Horus.

Tribal tattooing boasts vast history and transformations throughout the years. Since this style of tattooing is also utilized by current artists, it’s now a notable tattoo style in the world.


Popular Tribal Tattoo Artists

When deciding on a tattoo, you’d want to have the best tattoo artist for your design. Here’s a look at some of the most notable tribal tattoo artists in the world and their masterpieces.



Tribal Art
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The first place on our “top tribal tattoo artists” is taken by Whang-od; currently 102 years old and is the last and the oldest mambabatok (traditional Kalinga tattooer). She is also a part of the Butbut people of a larger Kalinga society. 

Whang-od, or also known as Maria Oggay started drawing tattoos since she was 15 years old. Her father and her master tattooer largely contributed to her style of tattooing. Typically, only the men in her tribe were allowed to paint tattoos, which illustrate victories over other men and tribes. However, due to her fantastic tattoo painting talent, Whang-od became the first female tribal tattoo artist in her tribe. 

Later in her adult life, Whang-od was teaching only women to the art of tattooing. This actually broke the then perceived Kalinga traditions for the first time ever.

In her early years, she used to draw tattoos on Butbut warriors depicting their wins over other tribes. Now she paints tattoos on the bodies of tourists who visit Buscalan, the current place where she resides. And since Butbut warriors no longer exist in our modern society, she no longer paints victory-related tattoos.

In 2017 she was nominated for the National Living Treasure Awards. However, her nomination and other people’s nominations are still being processed, and the winner hasn’t yet been announced.


Victor J Webster

Tribal Tattoos
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Victor is another prominent tribal tattoo artist. His works are mainly tied to the Pacific Ocean traditions and countries like Polynesia, Indonesia, Micronesia, and Japan. His artworks and paintings are heavily impacted by ceramics and textiles. Since his early years, he contained a burning passion for the Pacific Ocean style of tattooing. Trained by Inia Taylor and Croc Coulter in Auckland, New Zealand, he’s now one of the most popular tribal tattoo experts in the world.

His paintings have been engaging audiences throughout the whole globe. That’s why we highly recommend checking out his Instagram page. This is the place where you’ll be able to examine a significant amount of the tattoos he depicted. Moreover, you’ll be able to receive some outstanding ideas and great inspiration.


Hanumantra Lamara

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Hanumantra is a world-renowned artist who professionally utilizes the blackwork style of tattooing. Similar to Victor J Webster, Hanumantra was keen on tattoos since he was very young. Fast-forward a couple of years, he is now one of the world’s leading experts in tribal tattooing.

His professional work connects modern and primitive forms of tattooing. Thus creating state-of-the-art tattoos for his clients all over the world. His Facebook and Instagram pages are widely popular. Those are the places where Hanumantra displays his most impressive work.

Checking out his social media pages will definitely going to give you some fresh tattoo ideas if you’re wondering what your next tattoo should be.


Igor Kampman

Tribal Tattoo
Image by Igor Kampman on Pinterest

Born in the Netherlands, Igor has worked in various shops before creating his own studio, known as “Blakinktatau”. He has been tattooing since 2002 and has transformed himself into a professional tattoo artist. If you want a blackwork tribal tattoo design, Igor Kampman is the man to look for. This design is strictly tied to the Polynesian islands and the Pacific area styles of art. Most of his works include abstract figures, intricate details. All this makes his paintings stand out from the crowd.

Due to his travels through the whole world, Igor managed to make contacts and build relationships with many artists. People he met during his travels shared a vast amount of knowledge with him. This then helped him become one of the most popular tribal tattoo artists in the world today.

If you haven’t checked any of Igor’s recent artworks, we highly suggest doing that. Igor’s tattoo paintings will definitely impress you even if you aren’t keen on tattoos. As a matter of fact, you might want to draw a tattoo on yourself once you’ve gone through Igor’s fascinating tattoo paintings.


Dmitry Babakhin

Tattoo Body art
Image by Bender B on Pinterest

Dmitry is a Russian tattoo artist, mastered the art of body painting; one of the most notable tribal tattoo artists in the world. He was keen on tattoo art and designs since he was below 10 years old. He started collecting and reading a vast amount of tattoo magazines. When he turned 13 years old, he began practicing tattooing. He actually started tattooing because he wanted to look cool at the age of 14. 

A friend of his painted him his first tattoo; however, Dmitry didn’t like how the tattoo worked out. Yet, he got a grasp of how to make incredible tribal tattoos. Fast-forward a couple of years, and he is now a world-renowned tattoo artist. Dmitry mainly utilizes a tribal tattoo style of art closely tied to Polynesian cultures and traditions.

Dmitry Babakhin has literally been crushing it with his most recent tattoo designs. That’s why we highly recommend checking out more of his incredible tattoo paintings


Gerhard Wiesbeck

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Gerhard is a German professional tattooer. He mainly specializes in tribal tattooing ranging from Celtic knots to pure geometric forms. His Instagram page has over 138K followers. It is where he showcases most of his outstanding tattoo paintings. 

Gerhard tattoo artworks have been amazing audiences for years now. That’s why we can easily call him one of the most prominent tattoo artists in the world. We encourage you to check out other of Gerhard’s fascinating paintings. These paintings will help you determine what your next tattoo will be. 


Jeroen Franken

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Jeroen Franken is the type of guy who will reach any borders to create amazing tribal tattoos genuinely. His first tattoo was made in the deep jungles of Borneo. This is because he couldn’t find a better place for depicting “tribal” tattoos. 

Once he finished his book “Pantang Iban,”, he became an apprentice at Hanky Panky Tattoo in Amsterdam.  It is a remarkable book that explains the tattoos of the Iban. He was personally mentored by the tattoo expert Michel Thieme, a.k.a. Captain Caveman. This made Jeroen one of the world’s leading experts in tribal tattoos. 

Since then, he has traveled the whole world three times. This is so he could expand his knowledge and develop outstanding tattoo skills. During his travels, he met a lot of people. He also worked with a significant amount of tattoo artists, which helped him significantly improve his style of tattooing. Along the way of this fascinating journey, Jeroen developed a keen passion for tattoos of different ethnic cultures. He refers to both the western and the eastern world.

Jeroen has left a massive impact on the art of tribal tattooing. That’s why we highly encourage you to check some of Jeroen’s fantastic tattoo designs. They have been leaving audiences with jaw-dropping experiences for years now.

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